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Credentials thread

I have no formal training, nor do I have any real experience earning a living in any area of auto repair, except for managing a gas station in a National Park for one Summer, 48 years ago. I supported my family and myself for years and years as a lawyer and then a judge for Social Security, and retired about 6 months ago.

However, I have always wondered how things work. Cars, copying machines, toilets, the tides, religions, tax evasion, a pancreas, you name it. It’s all interesting to me, and I’ve been taking things apart and putting them together since I was about 10. So, over the years, being a cheapskate and a person who figured I could learn to do what other people learn to do, I have rebuilt, restored, fixed, broken, fixed again and generally messed with motor vehicles, and I still do it every day. To me the fun is figuring out what the problem is and then getting in there and straightening it out. Recently I’m much more interested in old motorcycles, because they are smaller and fit in my garage, and they are mechanical. Electronics just isn’t fun. Too much remove and replace, and I prefer fixing things that are broken.

I never did any of this stuff for money.

Many people in Germany have a very dim opinion of mechanics in the US.

That’s probably true but many people here have a very dim opinion of German engineering. Not that it’s all bad but why do you have to take out a second mortgage just to repair a Mercedes or a BMW? Those cars are great when they are new but as they age…not so much.

Finally a real lawyer on this board. Now if we could just get Transman back.

For those Benz guys out here . . .

Think about the transition from the W126 to the W140

The W140 was overengineered like no other . . . at the time anyways

Mechanically, the W140 was pretty solid, but electrically, it was an engineer’s dream come true . . . and a mechanic’s nightmare

THose Germans just like using different fasteners to fool us all.
I’ve never used my allen sockets as much as on German vehicles. A few years back I had one that I had to find these new sockets “Four square” I think they’re called.
I had one of those yesterday and the one size I needed I didn’t have. Another trip to meet the Snap-On guy.

I think everyone on this site can contribute in some way. I’ve seen posts where someone came up with a completrely different way to fix a problem, and it made sense. We just all have to keep an open mind and be willing to learn a new idea now and then.


The Japanese motorcycles I work on, from the 70’s and early 80’s, use JIS screws. They look just like a regular Phillips, but they had a tiny dimple on one of the 4 quadrants of the head. The shape of the head of the screwdriver is a bit different, different angles mostly, and if you use an American screwdriver you will strip the screws pretty quickly. I learned that on a forum in a posting from some random person whose credentials were unknown, but it has saved me a lot of headaches.

I agree with @Yosemite that good ideas often come from people who have a different view of a familiar problem. I feel like a hobby mechanic will often take the slower, more tedious route and fix a broken part, rather than spend some money and replace that part with a new one, which is more economically attractive to a mechanic who is trying to earn a living at it. That different view creates different problem solving patterns.

That’s my excuse for feeling qualified to throw my 2 cents in here.

Perfect example of learning from everybody. I’ll stay away from those Japanese bikes then.

I remember my dad helping me do a head gasket job on an old Chevy Luv mini Pickup. His first experience with much metric stuff. We couldn’t reach…and couldn’t figure out how they got at the intake bolts on the bottom. No room, wierd angles, everything in the way etc…
He finally got so mad he threw down the wrench and claimed they (the Japaneese) are telling us, while shaking their fist in the air, “We’ll get you back for Nagasaki, You yankee dogs”.
I almost fell over laughing.

I’ve learned over the years, usually the hard way, that there are numerous different types of screw heads. I have sets of screw heads that must have 18 or 24 tips. And I’m still wondering why everything driven by a screwdriver has six sides, everything driven by a ratchet has four sides, and I have a terrible time finding adapters.

And why is it that ratchets are in inches even in metric sets.

And why, in tires, is the section width in millimeters, the sidewall in a ratio, and the wheels in inches? I won’t even get into bicycles tire sizes for road bikes, which make even less sense if that’s possible. How do these things get so screwed up, anyway?

Maybe relative to being a world leader your credentials aren’t that impressive, but related to giving opinions over time on matters relating to the automobile, any White House resident would stand in appreciation to your life long experiences and interests. I would sooner you stopped by when my car breaks down then any US senator I can think of. But, you must admitt, that should that happen, they might have a few more “contacts”.

Obama Obama obama

Thanks Dag. Yeah, just about everyone has more contacts than I do, particularly U.S. Senators.

German mechanics are generally skilled and competent. However, they don’t understand that the best maintenance is maintenance that does not need to be done.

A friend used to have a small Mercedes dealership in the late 60s. The manuals were thick and heavy, and you had to add 5 drops of light oil to the 180’s and 280’s the door hinges every 500 kilometers.!! Never mind that a single person might go 3000 kms without opening any door other than the driver’s side.

Sensible, cost-effective maintenance has never been a strong suite of German car manufacturers or mechanics.

I am from a small island on the Chesapeake bay. my grandfather fought in the civil war. my husband died in WW1 and I never re married. i worked at woolworths for 60 yrs and walked to work every day until my late 80 s. people say i was the best cook ever, so i cooked sunday dinner every sunday til my early 90s. i lived until 98 and got to see my great great grandson, sean, Wesley s boy.

mary hopkins

I recall this fabricated story that was going around perhaps 30 years ago that was supposed to illustrate who had the best skills in fabrication. It went something like this-

The Americans, to show off their prowess in fabricating intricate and small things had drawn the world’s smallest diameter wire. They promptly sent it around the world as a proud example of their abilities.

The Germans drilled a hole in it and sent it back.

The Swiss not only drilled the hole but tapped it and sent it back with a screw in it…

…then the Chinese intercepted it, copied it, and sold it back to the americans

  1. spent last two years of high school in a technical h.s in the diesel shop
  2. shop tech working on IH Transtars, Peterbilt 352’s, Trailmobile w/Theromkings
  3. worked at mom and pop repair shops
  4. sold tools to parts stores and wagon jobbers (snap on, mac, etc)
  5. sold parts to same
  6. service tech at Chrysler dealer
  7. service writer at Chevy dealer
  8. body shop manager at Chevy dealer
  9. body shop estimator at Chevy dealer
  10. insurance appraiser

Given your screen name, why do you have a picture of a duck?

A picture of a bobcat would be more appropriate

Or perhaps that is a mean eyed duck . . .

I can’t tell whether the interest in reviving this as a profile/credentials thread isn’t that strong, or it isn’t strong because it isn’t that visible. If you’d like, I can sticky it and rename it as TSM suggested to include the many paths people have taken.


Oh that’s just a pic I snapped and thought it was good. A puddle duck in a puddle. If I ever get a snap of a Bobcat it will change.
Actually the name is from my favorite Johnny Cash song.

I like ducks better than cats but which goes better with mean eyed?

When I get my new workshop organized I plan on building some creepers. Chrome the wheels, paint it white and blue with blue pearl top coat and call it the “mean eyed catz creeper company”. Nobody steal my idea, OK! ( :

I had clients that always offered me cats. They finally stopped when I learned to reply “No thinks my freezer’s full”.
I don’t hate them, and I’d never try to hit one crossing the road, but I’m not a fan. Give me a big dog any day.